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South Surrey ‘Active Start’ program to focus on youngsters’ skills, confidence

Coach hopes to also create network for families with children who have intellectual disabilities

A program aimed at connecting families while helping young children with intellectual disabilities learn basic motor skills launches May 1 at Alexandra House.

Active Start uses play, movement and music to help young athletes aged two to six years old learn, develop and build on co-ordination skills – such as grasping a pencil, climbing stairs or throwing – that will benefit them when they begin school.

“It’s really simple, small movements that do so much for kids at that age,” said Susan Richards de Wit, a South Surrey woman whose family spent five years coaching a Special Olympics BC program for athletes in Grades 8 through 12.

READ MORE: Athletes flourish in Sport Start program

De Wit said Sport Start, which ran weekly at Jessie Lee Elementary until coming to a “natural ending” about four years ago as participating athletes aged out, created “such a great network of parents and kids.”

That sense of community is something she hopes Active Start – also a Special Olympics BC program – will create for younger families, she said.

In the program, each athlete is encouraged to explore their abilities at their own pace, in a fun, safe environment. Activities offered over the course of 12 weeks incorporate equipment ranging from hula hoops and scarves, to stepping mats, a foam balance beam and more.

“It’s part motor development and skill development,” and also builds confidence, de Wit said.

Parents are welcome to participate, or simply sit back and chat with other parents while watching their child learn and interact.

De Wit said her interest in coaching the program was piqued by the joy she and her family gained through watching the growth and development of athletes who participated in Sport Start.

Many of those ‘graduates’ have expressed an interest in getting involved with Active Start in some way, she noted, but exactly what that might look like has yet to be determined.

“I would love to share this network of families with (other) young families that maybe are looking for inspiration or help, or maybe examples of other athletes who are amazing and who… have exceptional gifts,” de Wit said.

De Wit’s daughter, Amadea de Wit, and Megan Mohan – who also coached Sport Start while in high school themselves – will help coach the upcoming Active Start program.

It’s to run on Mondays, from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in Alex Hall.

Registration is underway – cost is $35 per athlete – and parents interested in signing up their youngsters may do so by emailing

For more information, de Wit may be reached at 604-782-2287.
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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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